10 Things I Learned from Going to Global Conferences

One of the sure-fire ways to fail at a conference is to let yourself be swept away by all the excitement and rely on memory alone to keep you on track.

Having said that, you should also remember to sleep, eat and dress to impress, because the dark circles of desperation around your eyes aren’t going to help you sell anyone on your big idea. It’s a high-wire balancing act, trying to get to where and who matters to your strategy, without burning out – and that’s especially true for a 3+-day event, so be careful not to run out of energy.

Accept that you can’t be everywhere and you’ll have more peace of mind during the event, which in turn will let you take advantage of the opportunities it presents. If you can, bring someone along with you (or hire an intern for the event) so they can be at the fixed location (stand) assigned to you while you work the room.

The thing to remember here is that not every event, however well-attended, will be a right fit for your needs. And it’s your job to make sure it’s worth your time at this particular point in time. How you do that is by reviewing the speakers, attendees and connected events/workshops/talks on the event website, as well as by contacting the organizers directly with your questions or concerns.

1. Not every conference is right for you, no matter how big and glitzy

Arrive as early as possible in order to get through registration in the first wave and take in the space at your leisure. Map it out and commit the venue to memory. That way, you’ll always know where you’re going and you won’t risk a wrong turn delaying you from a meeting.

Tips for Attending Conferences

You never want to be caught off-guard, and if you are, you’ll certainly want it costing you as little valuable time as possible.

When I’m going solo to multi-day events, I like to pack high-protein snacks to keep me going well into the evening (but do read the room before you start peeling that banana!).

2. Strategize in advance

Also, pool your notes and ideas touched on at the event, with an eye to extracting value from them by way of content for your blog, and other places you might want to guest write on, as well as for infographics, whitepapers, presentation slides or other types of engaging nuggets you can turn out.

The big names on the speakers’ roster are used to being wooed, so much so that they’ll sniff out a pitch way before you can get a word in. You can’t afford to abuse their time or openness, and you’re unlikely to have another shot at impressing them.

Brush up on your research and stalking skills to get a feel for what those influencers or companies or competitors (etc.) are about: what kind of stories that reporter covers; what kind of product that startup is offering; what kind of outreach initiative that influencer is keen on, and so forth.

If your docket is looking too crowded, set up reminders on your phone, so you can sit back and enjoy the moment without fidgeting in your seat or looking at your watch every 30 seconds.

And, let’s not kid ourselves, making all the travel and ticket-booking arrangements, not to mention the interruption in your daily activities for the duration of the event – will most likely seem like a pain. The trick to it is easing that pain by attaching actionable goals to this effort.

3. Don’t scramble for success, practically plan for leads instead

So you should aim for your pitch to blend seamlessly into a chat, perhaps, at one of the after-hour events. It’s so much more likely for that sort of chill conversation to stand out in someone’s mind – how much it stands out will ultimately depend on your personal charm and gift of the gab.

You’ve little use for a three-day break in your routine building the next big thing in IoT if the only thing it might get you is an insight into social media marketing. Not that marketing won’t tie into your launch at some point along the way, but if time is of the essence and delays could make or break your launch strategy, you’re probably better off attending such a conference at a later date.

Everyone’s looking for the exact same thing you are – networking, one-to-one face time with the big shots, the tech titans and the influencers. So you’ll want to get your QR-equipped business cards (and your Intro app) ready, as well as install the event app ahead of time and tinker around to know its functionalities by heart before you land

Presentation Ready for Pitching

While you do have to clear your mind to soak up all the information available, it will come from both your best-laid plans and pure happenstance, so you’ll most likely feel bombarded throughout.

You’ll also need to mark out your time there to the minute, so that you ensure everything goes your way: every meeting, every talk, every cocktail you’ve marked out on the event schedule, you should make a point of getting there with time to spare.

4. Take in the room(s) and schedule your steps like a wire-walker

Most of all, keep track of answers and mentions that relate to your posts, as the always-in-the-now nature of social media can help you pick up where the face-to-face nature of conferences leaves off.

You’re likely going to have one shot at reeling out your presentation, so put your best foot forward. That means never ever running out of juice midway through and having someone from the developer team on hand back home to remotely fix whatever glitches might come up.

know your venue

Going out of town for a conference will often put the entrepreneur in a tense, salesy frame of mind – but s/he can’t afford to forget that those precious contacts he aims to seek out while there are most likely traveling for the fun of it.

Even without the prospect of bending an investor’s ear, pencil in a night or two of going out on the town – mainly because the whole point of the trip is meeting people and getting feedback on your idea.

5. Factor in the physical limitations at a crowded event

That way, when you find yourself face to face with them "by chance," you’ll have a nice ice-breaker to smooth the way to the conversation you’re aching to have.

Even if it’s not readily actionable, this information can prove to be a treasure trove, and you owe it to your business to bring back as much of that to your team (that’s aside from the souvenirs).

There’s a lot going on in the hallways, in the restaurants, cafes and hotels the conference is partnered with: useful feedback on speakers, tips on how to approach them, tidbits about your industry, anything can help you move your business forward.

Do your homework on the attendees and speakers, find the ones you’re most likely to benefit from talking to, and hone in on them.

6. Keep your wits, and your notes, about you

Even if your ultimate goal is getting your product in front of the right people, the conference halls will always be chock-full of information you won’t even know you needed but could prove valuable in the short and long terms.

I can’t stress this enough: you can’t afford to be walking aimlessly around the conference venue during the event.

For one thing, because you’ll be thrown off your game when you eventually forget your notepad at the hotel; and, for another, because the notes you take on your phone, under a new, dedicated (set of) tag(s), will be easier to skim through and follow up on at home.

Take notes

The first thing you need to do, even before you register your attendance, is review the event and how it fits your purposes.

7. Ride the social media waves & trends like a pro

For that impromptu pitch (and the meetings you’ve already set with attendees by contacting them beforehand), be sure to come prepared with all the devices and power cables you might need.

A global conference is the best place to meet influencers, get prospects and/or feedback on a new project. That being said, if you’ve looked over the information about the conference in question and decided it’s a good investment of your time and money – the next step is planning your moves once you are there.

Having said that, resist the temptation to drink and pitch – it’s a losing combo, trust me on that.

But as a first-time attendee there are a few things to keep in mind. If it’s the same for you, I’d advise you to keep a checklist like mine before registering for any global conference, otherwise you run the risk of going through the trouble in vain.

8. Keep your eyes peeled and your ears pricked up

The thing about being a bootstrapping entrepreneur is that you’ll often find yourself being a one-man band as well. To maximize the takeaways from a global conference, you have to be engaged at all times, preferably around a common conference hashtag.

For the first two weeks or so after the conference closes its doors, the subjects discussed and the contacts made are still fresh in everyone’s mind.

It’s also worth looking into whether a one-day pass will do for your present purposes (i.e. if you just want to bend the ear of an influencer that’s scheduled to be attending or talking on a particular day).

9. Getting the most out of a conference is also about having fun!

While getting ready to attend a web submit, I found myself reviewing the fundamentals of attending such industry events. The good vibe, and constructive feedback you can get from one of these always makes them worth the ticket, in my book.

People might be more inclined to chat in an informal setting, plus of which you yourself will have an easier time pitching a potential lead or influencer (without seeming desperate) when you’re more at ease and no one else is vying for their attention.

The only way you can stay on top of all this rapid-fire info, contact details and business ideas, is by constantly taking notes. Well-tagged notes, at that. My advice to pen-and-paper holdovers is to ditch their notepad and install Evernote on their phone already.

after hours party

Whenever you can spare a couple of minutes, pull up the contacts you’ve just made and look them up on Twitter, where you can engage with them right off the bat on the subjects raised at the conference, without the interaction seeming forced.

Tweet, gram, re-gram and post to every social channel already included in your marketing strategy, but remember not to hashtag it up on Linkedin, the professional nature of which doesn’t quite jibe with the millennial hash.

Any idea can be spun out into a (highly converting) article, if you put your mind to it which you definitely should – it’s not for nothing that "content marketing" is the top buzzword of our age!

10. Strike up follow-ups while the conference is still hot

If more of your team can be present at the event, direct them on where to be in advance, so you can cover more ground together. If you’re on your own, pick your best bets and prospects according to your goals and hope it all pans out.

Forget the old adage about God laughing at your plans, because there’s nothing like winging it to kill your chances of getting the most out of an event that draws a crowd of others trying to do the same.

follow up

Trust me on this, going to a conference unprepared will only land you in a sea of people you won’t know the first thing about, or what to do with.

Jump on that (narrow window of) opportunity to follow up with the people you’ve met, driving conversions where you can and building relationships that you might convert later.


How to Build a Game From Scratch Without Coding

Little Saw. A platformer that features a little creature that must navigate its way through dozens of levels while braving the dangers of the world.

Honestly, the only negative thing I can think of about GameMaker is the price tag. The free version works wonders, but when it’s time to upgrade in order for you to publish your games on Mac, iOS, and Android, you’ll need loads of cash just to do so: around $440 to publish on iOS and Android. Apart from that, GameMaker literally has everything you’ll ever need to build your game.

Thousands of new games are being published, both by big companies and indie developers – and they won’t be doing that if they are not earning any money, right? But here’s the thing: not all of the game makers know how to code. In fact, even you can make games without touching a single line of code!

Game Builders: How Do They Work?

CoinOp Story. CoinOp Story follows the adventure of an animated arcade game cabinet whose purpose is to collect game cards.

The Open Game Art Bundle offers a lot of soundtrack and game arts… all for free. Mix and remix, use them as they are, it’s okay!

Who doesn’t know Steam? The following games are either on Steam already, ready for download, or are greenlit for publishing.

So, what do you think? What kind of game are you thinking of building?

Things You Need to Get Started

See No Evil. A fantasy isometric puzzle game that has diverse puzzles to solve, engaging narration, and is just strange in a beautiful way.

1. Your Game’s Narrative

You get the idea. You need to set your own limitations. What is possible in the game and what isn’t. This will come in handy once you are already building your game.

This is possible because the people behind these game builders have programmed all of the possible game movements. All you have to do then is to choose which pre-set action to use.

2. Your Game’s Rules

How does your world work? Does it follow real-world physics? Or does it follow its own rules? You need to define your rules early on and stand by them. For example, how many lives or health points does your hero get to have? When the hero dies, what happens? Do enemies respawn? What about your levelling up system? Can enemies jump on walls?

Feeling inspired but still in doubt because you’re not good with character designs or background creation? If you need resources, here are a few spots online where you can grab design assets including game art, character design, sound files, background scenes, music and more.

3. Your Game’s Resources

AudioJungle for sound effects and music among others. If you still remember the music and sound effects from Mario bros decades after you’ve stopped playing, you understand the need for good picks.

  • Graphics – you haven’t seen a game without graphics, right? To most people, graphics can make or break a game. Many players prefer good-looking games, so you’ll probably have to design (or have someone design) creative characters, backgrounds, floor plans, attack effects, and many more.
  • Music – music is another vital component of games. From background music, sound effects, and even voice overs. Can you imagine a successful yet totally silent game? Nope!
  • Patience – you will need lots of it. Because game builders enable non-programmers to, well, make games, this also means you’ll need to do a lot of clicking.

OpenGameArt.org for free game assets that are built by the community. While not everything looks good here, there are also good stuff to find, you just need patience!

Top 3 Game Builders

GameSalad is another game builder that allows you to build games without touching a single line of code. But unlike GameMaker and Construct 2, GameSalad is "for rent" instead of for purchase. You can be a pro member for just $29/month, which is already a great deal if you want to test the waters first.

Wanderlust: Adventures. An RPG game set in a huge world that you can explore. Customize your characters, level up, and play in real time with up to 3 of your friends.

#1. GameMaker

You don’t really need to learn how to code in order to create a game like Pokemon, Zelda, Harvest Moon, Flappy Bird, first person shooters, zombie games, and many more game types.

The social stigma of games have changed for the better, from "you’re just wasting your time, games will make you stupid" to one of the major forms of profitable entertainment.

Games Made Using GameMaker

Bfxr for free sound assets. Arguably, music is harder to create than graphics, and you’ll definitely need to fiddle around Bfxr if you don’t want to buy or hire someone for the music.

2D Game Art for Programmers for tutorials and game assets you can buy.

While GameSalad has everything you need, the saddest thing about it is that you can only try the basic package for 15 days. You can’t also own the game builder, as it is monthly subscription based. Honestly, that’s the only negative thing I can say about GameSalad.

Let’s check out GameMaker, Construct 2 and GameSalad.

#2. Construct 2

Hungry Hal. The tables have turned and now you are a zombie and you chase people to eat them. Well, that’s basically it!

Steam Punks. An action platformer RPG that has gameplay like the classic Mega Man and Metal Slug.

Games Made using Construct 2

A game is not a game if it doesn’t have the following:

Once you have your story, rules, and resources, the next thing for you to do is pick which game builder to use. Now, the beautiful thing about game builders available on the market is that most of them have free versions that you can fiddle around before buying the premium versions. So, be sure to test first!

GraphicRiver for over 1500 game assets that you can use in your games.

Galactic Missile Defense. This is a refreshing take on the old school "protect the earth from alien invaders" kind of game.

#3. GameSalad

What is your game all about? Who are your characters? What are their motivation? You need to write down a narrative of how your game’s world works. And this doesn’t only apply to your heroes, but also to your antagonists as well.

Once your game is complete, the next thing left for you to do is market it. Here is a post that can help you increase app downloads or you can go over to reddit and ask people to play your game. Remember to be nice! If you have available funds, you can market your game using Facebook Ads. You can also ask game blogs to feature or review your game.

Games Made Using GameSalad

Constuct 2 is one of the neatest game builders currently in the market. It is not riddled with clutter and you can easily build a game in just hours. Compared to GameMaker, Construct 2 is easier to learn and much cheaper at $129.99, and allows you to publish on Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android and Wii U.

GameMaker is one of the most popular game builders out there, and it also has the most robust features out there. It handles the physics, map building, sprite/character design, and pretty much just about everything you need to create a game. The free version allows you to create a simple game that can be published and played on the desktop.

Many of the games you see on Google Play Store, iOS App Store, and sometimes even on Steam are built using game builders like Construct 2. The only matter is, they won’t tell you! Because why should they? They want to keep the secret to themselves: that it’s very easy to build games!

Where To Find Game Assets

Fun Town. An educational game aimed for kids. Make a hamburger, grow a flower, go shopping, ride a bike, or try over a dozen other mini games.

My education and career was driven by games. I studied programming in college in the hopes of one day being able to build my own game called “Pokemon Rainbow”. Seriously. But you know what?

Scirra Marketplace, the official marketplace of Scirra, the creators of Construct 2. You can find hundreds of game art and soundtracks here for a few bucks.

Of course, it doesn’t need to be that long. Think of Super Mario Bros. The game itself doesn’t reveal much about the personality of the characters, but it helps with the progression of the game. Mario is looking for the Princess, who is always in another castle. Why is Mario looking for her? She was kidnapped by Bowser! See? It can be as simple as that.

The Next Penelope. An action and racing game set in a world where the player can explore different planets in order to find Ulysses.

Now, you don’t have to build the environment or characters in your game, bu there are a few things you need to figure out first.

It used to be that the only people who played games are those who have expensive handheld devices like the GameBoy, or consoles gifted to them by their parents. Now, almost everyone who owns a laptop, desktop, smartphone or tablet – from 5-year-olds to my grandma – are playing games.

GameTexture for free game assets. Please check the usage license.

There are software called game builders that enable regular people like you and me to simply drag and drop objects and set them to do a specific task. Game builders work in a way that helps avoid people from coding.

I have tested game builders for the sake of this article and I’ve tried out these top 3 game builders. There is a free version you can use to publish HTML5 games for free, and a pro version you can upgrade to, to publish your game on iOS, Android, and Windows.

Game Over, Now What?

GSHelper, the official marketplace of GameSalad. It has hundreds of professionally made artworks and music.

The beautiful thing I found about Construct 2 is its user interface. It doesn’t attempt to drown you in all the details of the game builder. It is intuitive in adding of actions and events.

Freesound for free music. Get the sound clips you need to make your game a lot more fun.


Entrepreneurs: 10 Things You Should Know About Patents

According to Investopedia, an investment education website, a patent is "government license that gives the holder exclusive rights to a process, design or new invention for a designated period of time." By establishing a patent, the patent holder is protected from other entities infringing upon their intellectual property.

In essence, though the requirements vary from country to country, patent authorities require that in order to be patented, ideas should be structured as more of a tangible asset or design, either through the development of a prototype or though detailed drawings and descriptions.

1. The Definition of A Patent

Without a patent, there is always the risk of a competitor stealing an original idea, so obtaining intellectual property protection is crucial. With that in mind, here are 10 key things that any entrepreneur or inventor needs to know about patents before launching a new product.

IMAGE: Us National Archives | Flickr

Prior to incurring the expense and dedicating the time required to apply for a patent, it is highly advisable to conduct a worldwide search for similar patents, to ensure that there is not a similar product or concept already with a patent or a patent pending. The USPTO alone has issued over 8 million patents since its inception.

2. You Can’t Patent an "Idea"

Since the passing of the America Invents Act, virtually every country in the world now works on a first-to-file system for patents, as opposed to a first-to-invent model. What this means is that in the event of multiple applicants filing for the same patent, the patent will go to whoever filed the application first.

When applying for a patent, entrepreneurs and inventors must note what type of patent they are applying for. In the US, there are three different classifications of patents, known as utility patents, design patents and plant patents.

IMAGE: qisur | Flickr

Once inspiration hits an inventor or entrepreneur, the race is on to patent the idea, put together a prototype, start manufacturing, and get it out on the market before somebody else does. The first component of the aforementioned process of getting to market, obtaining a patent, is a subject that generates a lot of confusion, especially for those new to the world of patenting.

3. Patents Are Country-Sensitive

Don’t hold your breath.

IMAGE: un_photo | Flickr

U.C. Berkeley vs. MIT is an on-going, epic patent battle over a ground-breaking DNA-editing technology involving a first-to-file vs. first-to-invent issue.

4. There are Multiple Types of Patents

Editor’s note: This post is written for Hongkiat.com by Andrew Armstrong. Andrew is a technology enthusiast and digital marketing adviser based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He lives in San Mateo, California with his wife and young son. You can reach him on Twitter.

IMAGE: businesssarah | Flickr

Hypothetically, without a patent, a new invention could be reverse engineered, replicated, and resold by another company with more resources, effectively pushing the original inventor out of the marketplace.

5. The First To File A Patent Typically Wins

Due to the pace at which technology and innovation takes place in today’s business, guidelines and laws are constantly changing. Entrepreneurs and inventors should keep abreast of recent changes with international bodies such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

129941959@N06 | Flickr

As stated on a recent post on Entrepreneurship Life, "a general plan or notion without some identifiable embodiment cannot be protect [sic] as Intellectual Property (IP) by the Intellectual Property Office."

6. Patents Can Take a Long Time To Be Granted

Before filing a patent application, inventors should consider the litany of costs associated with the process. Aside from just the application fee itself, there are associated services to be considered, ranging from the cost of a professional worldwide patent search and opinion, to attorney fees, to assistance with design drawings or prototype manufacturing, and more.

In China, there are two types of patents, invention patents and utility model patents. Understanding the pros and cons of different patent options is important as explained by an article in Inovia.

IMAGE: lorem

7. Patents Have To Be Globally Unique

Apple and ProView Technologies had an infamous patent dispute in 2012 at which time the publication Uproxx called out both parties on their rather "trollish" behavior with respect to patents.

gow27 | 123RF Stock Photo

There are multiple different patent authorities, and no single governing body can issue patents that are enforced worldwide. For example, patents in the United States are issued by the United States Patent & Trade Office while patents in the United Kingdom are handled by the Intellectual Property Office.

8. Patents Cost Money To Apply For

As suggested by Innovate Design, the patent search must go beyond just a single country because "in order to be patentable, an idea has to be globally unique, which is why this search has to be worldwide."

epsos | Flickr

Patent Trolls are individuals or entities who use patent laws to make generally frivolous claims about patent infringement, typically with the goal of extracting a settlement from a defendant who would prefer not to incur the costs and time required to fight the claim.

9. Patent Legislation Constantly Changes

Attempting to obtain a patent is not a good activity for those who lack patience. Though timelines vary from entity to entity, according to one source, "the average time it takes to obtain a patent from the (US) patent office at this time is about 32 months or a little under 3 years."

zerbor | 123RF Stock Photo

As great as an idea may be, in order to apply for a patent, there are certain requirements that need to be met as it relates to the development of the idea itself.

10. Beware of Patent Trolls

Through the Patent Cooperation Treaty, one can initiate the patent filing process with roughly 145 participating nations, although eventually there are additional costs and processes required that one must consider to finalize the desired patents.

hershco | Flickr

I.P. Watchdog estimates that the cost of obtaining a patent in the United States can easily add up to ten thousand dollars or more, adding "how much you will spend on a patent application also depends upon what it is that you want to do with the patent and whether there are realistic market opportunities."

Additional, individual countries routinely draft new legislation that involves patent law, such as the proposed Innovation Act that is under consideration in the United States.